As the Union government released census data which revealed a rise in Muslim population in the state, a debate started within political circles of Bengal.
The BJP and the RSS joined in the chorus of illegal migration from Bangladesh while the Trinamool Congress (TMC) vowed to combat ‘communal politics’ over the issue.
The issue has become extra sensitive with the state gearing up for assembly polls in 2016, where Muslims are key to the outcome. According to the census, the Muslim population rose from 25.2% in 2001 to 26.94% in 2011.
The ruling TMC and its chief Mamata Banerjee have gone out of their way for minority development in the state. Since she came to power in May 2011, she has been accused by the Opposition of announcing a series of sops for the community, including stipend for ‘imams’ and ‘muezzins’ and homestead for the ‘imams’.
“The central government data is incomplete. In my view, the Muslim population is over 29% in the state. There is a demographic change in bordering districts such as Murshidabad, Malda and South 24 Parganas because of Bangladeshi Muslims crossing over. The situation is alarming,” said BJP state president Rahul Sinha.
Meanwhile, the TMC said the BJP-RSS combine was using the data to fan communal tension.
“It is normal for any population to grow. We do not differentiate between Hindu and Muslim populations. Under chief minister Mamata Banerjee, we will not allow BJP-RSS to fan communal tension with this issue in the state,” said Idris Ali, Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP.
CPM leaders said parameters such as health and education should be looked into while studying growth of population.